Halifax Songs of Praise


Halifax

Aled Jones is in Halifax in West Yorkshire to discover the history behind one of the UK's newest minsters; plus a performance from country music legend Glen Campbell.


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Transcript


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Hello, and welcome to West Yorkshire.

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This week, I'm on my way to Halifax, a town with a proud history

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and a rich musical tradition, so I wonder why they asked me to bring a scooter.

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Honestly, the things I do for this programme!

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BEEP-BEEP!

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They meant THAT sort of scooter! ..Wait for me!

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This week, I discover the appeal of transport with two wheels

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and many mirrors, with wonderful hymns from Halifax Minster,

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and country music legend Glen Campbell takes a break from his world tour

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to give an exclusive performance for Songs Of Praise.

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Halifax is a town shaped by its proud industrial heritage.

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The old mills and market places in the shadow of the South Pennine hills

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are reminders of the time

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when this was a major hub of the wool and cotton trade.

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Nevertheless, Halifax has moved with the changing times.

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You may have heard of the small building society

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established here in 1853.

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Now part of a multinational banking group,

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it's still the town's biggest employer.

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Whilst some landmarks, like the handsome town hall,

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are still used for their original purpose,

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other buildings and spaces have been re-imagined and reinvented.

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Like this one.

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Halifax Piece Hall, opened up as a trading place

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for pieces of cloth in 1779.

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It quickly became a focal point for the people of Halifax.

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Political hustings were held here,

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and it was even the starting point

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for Halifax's very first hot-air balloon ride.

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And in the mid-19th century, it was the setting for a series of Whitsuntide Sings,

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where over 30,000 gathered to raise their voices in praise to God.

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And the churches of Halifax

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continue to maintain that rich musical tradition.

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When I came to Halifax a few years ago, this building behind me

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was the parish church, but something's changed.

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It's still the same imposing building at the heart of town

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and it's still home to the same thriving community.

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It's where our hymns come from this week.

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But it's no longer the parish church. Why?

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Find out after our first hymn, At The Name Of Jesus.

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Here's a riddle for you.

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When is a church still a church, but no longer a church?

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And what has a telescope, a diary and a coin got to do with its story?

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Come with me - all will be revealed.

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For over 900 years, this was the town's parish church

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until just two years ago, when in a very special service,

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it was endowed with the title "Minster Church of St John the Baptist Halifax".

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So, it's not just a church, it's a Minster church.

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The term Minster originally referred to a religious community.

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Today it's an honorary title

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that can be bestowed on parish churches by their bishop.

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And the mission of Halifax's New Minster is to reach out

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through worship, social justice and education,

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and, of course, to build on its rich heritage,

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which brings me to the other clues in the riddle.

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The coin - that's to give to Old Tristram here.

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Carved in wood, in 1701, it's believed that he represents

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a real-life Halifax character who once begged in the church precincts.

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Doesn't look bad for his age, does he?

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The diary is a clue to another intriguing former resident of Halifax.

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Anne Lister inherited nearby Shipton Hall in 1826.

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She was a prolific diary writer, and used to record

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her private thoughts using a secret code,

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which has only been deciphered in the last few years.

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And the telescope - that's in memory of William Herschel,

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a quite remarkable man by all accounts.

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He came to England from Germany in 1757, aged just 19,

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and went on to become the celebrated astronomer

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who discovered the planet Uranus.

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But besides star-gazing, he was also an accomplished musician.

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He was actually the first organist here, at Halifax Minster, as it is now.

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I'm sure he'd be very proud to know

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that this fine instrument is still being put to good use.

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I was meant to be here for two months, when I finished university. I'm here ten years later!

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Denise Keenan and her daughter-in-law Kate run the St Augustine's Centre in Halifax.

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Established in the 1960s,

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to react to the needs of an increasingly diverse community,

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volunteers were soon offering advice and support to refugees and asylum-seekers.

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Over the years, the centre has gone from strength to strength.

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We used to get people coming to our office door,

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to the point where there was a queue of people wanting something.

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I'd be just running round like a headless chicken.

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I'd be standing there saying, "Kate, do this!"

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And eventually we said, we need to find one afternoon a week,

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where we serve some food and we sort everyone's problems out.

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-That was the plan.

-We were going to sort everyone's problems out, with volunteers.

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-On the Tuesday afternoon.

-And now we've got two buildings, 24/7 advice.

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We have garden activities, we have creative activities,

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we have immigration advice, careers advice.

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We have a church service downstairs.

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# We are part of God's amazing plan. #

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-You're also banging drums!

-Yes, Sambalifax!

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You can sit at the table on a Tuesday, with 35 people,

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and they're all from somewhere different in the world. How amazing is that?

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'Gabriel Mlala was a teacher in his native Zimbabwe,

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'when, due to political unrest, he had to flee for his life.

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'After ten years, it's still not safe for him to return.'

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You've had such a tough life.

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You had to leave your family behind in Zimbabwe.

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Yes, I left my family behind.

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I had been in South Africa for two years before I came here,

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so it is more than ten years now that I last saw my children.

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How do you cope with that?

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Sometimes I just have to cry, to take out the stress of it.

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We pray for all those who fear for their safety.

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I am so close to my family, especially my mother.

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It's the one that I think... Because she is very old now,

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and sometimes I get so much afraid that she will die, and I won't even see her.

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Does God help you through that?

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Yes, I think praise has been a very good...a big part in my life.

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Because each time when I'm very down, I just kneel down and pray.

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Sometimes when I wake up in the morning,

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I feel I've got the strength to just go on and on, and hopefully things will get better.

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And you sometimes wonder, when did they last have a hug?

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I'm not going to give them a hug cos it's appropriate from me.

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-I do.

-But the mother figure, everybody loves the mother figure in their life.

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You sometimes think, when did they last have that bit of love

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that you need sometimes to keep you going?

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I suppose this can be a controversial issue.

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What do you say to the people who are of the view

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that asylum seekers should stay where they are?

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One thing I say to people is, this is a Christian country.

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We've got to treat people in a Christian manner.

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And we don't.

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People come here, and half of them don't even know why they're here,

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because they've paid somebody to get them out of their horrible situation.

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It would be really sad to think

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there would be hundreds of people out there not receiving God's love,

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but...you know, I'm sure something else would be here.

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And there are many charities we work with who do practical things,

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but it would be a really sad loss to this community.

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-We're a bit of an oasis, really.

-I see God's face in people,

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when they come in the doors, and sometimes people will walk away...

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-And you know that it's God.

-Yes, there goes Jesus.

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In its heyday, this space at Piece Hall would have been alive

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with noise and colour, as traders tried to sell their wares.

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And even today, the peace of Piece Hall is sometimes shattered.

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ENGINES REV

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Before I left school, I knew that I wanted to be a somebody,

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to be part of a group, to be part of something people would look up to.

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A Mod is someone who is very smart.

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It's all about music, it's all about dancing to the music that you love.

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And it's all about girls.

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And it's all about scooters as well.

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A Mod cannot be a Mod without a scooter, in my opinion.

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I did the usual - going out, getting drunk.

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And I remember one time coming home one evening.

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I had the police everywhere because I was causing that much trouble.

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The police came knocking on our door, and I looked at my mum,

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and I could see the sadness in her eyes.

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And I started to cry.

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And I cried buckets, and I said, "Mum, I can't stop drinking."

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And I said, "I am going to church." You could hear a pin drop.

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It was scary. It was unusual for me.

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Because one thing I noticed is that when I walked into this church,

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people were talking to each other.

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And they seemed to have a smile on their faces,

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as if they were enjoying the church.

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I could feel God's presence everywhere.

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I looked upon God,

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and I could see with my eyes that he was pure,

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he was holy, he was right.

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And when I looked at my own heart and my own life,

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I could see all the wrong

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and the terrible things that I'd done in the past.

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At that point, I got up and I walked to front of the church,

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and I shook the minister's hand, and I lifted my head and prayed to Jesus.

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And I said, "Jesus, I will follow you."

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And even to this day, after 25 years, I'm still learning to walk with God.

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I don't have it all together, I am not perfect. I'm just forgiven.

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Becoming a Christian did not stop Phill from becoming a Mod

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and he set about forming a group for those who shared both his faith

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and his love for scooters.

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We came up with the idea of the British Christian Scooterist's Association.

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We even designed a logo.

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The association is set up for Christians,

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and if they have any problems, we're there for them.

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And what do you do?

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We go to rallies,

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and we go there to let them know that there is more to life

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than just listening to music, there is more to life

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than just drinking.

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And we wanted to let the world know that Jesus Christ is alive

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and very much in the business of changing people's lives for the better.

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# There's been a load of compromising... #

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When it comes to the world of country music,

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there are few bigger stars than Glen Campbell.

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His career has spanned five decades,

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and produced huge hits such as Witchita Lineman and Rhinestone Cowboy.

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# Like a rhinestone cowboy

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# Riding out on a horse in a star-spangled rodeo... #

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He's still playing and recording today.

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But a few months ago, Glen was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

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With his wife Kim, he spoke to Songs Of Praise

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shortly before he performed in Yorkshire as part of his final world tour.

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Well, I'm one of 12 kids. And Daddy, he played and sang.

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He had a harmonica. He'd do all that.

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So, all the kids just kind of picked up on it.

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-You used to have all-day singing.

-Oh, yeah.

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-Picnic on the ground, and singing. Go to church on Sunday.

-Singing at a church on Sunday.

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They didn't do allow musical instruments at the Church of Christ,

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where Mama went, so I went on down to the other one!

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And at the Baptist church, they didn't allow dancing!

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They didn't allow dancing! I said, "Boy!"

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I looked all over the Bible and I never saw any of those things!

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After perfecting his guitar playing on his uncle's radio show,

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Glen moved to California, just as rock'n'roll was taking off.

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He formed his own bands, and then joined a group of session musicians

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who gained a reputation as the best in the business.

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They became known as the Wrecking Crew.

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The Wrecking Crew was a bunch of guys... We played everybody's songs.

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-We used to start off with Sinatra, Dean Martin, the Beach Boys...

-The Monkees.

-The Monkees!

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I really enjoyed doing that,

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cos I was playing with the best players on Earth - literally.

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I was playing in Las Vegas.

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Elvis would do a month, we'd do a month.

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It was a lot of fun, I really got to know Elvis.

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You'd go to see his show, he'd go to see yours.

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-He played on Viva Las Vegas.

-Right, I played on Viva Las Vegas.

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And Elvis and I became friends. Boy...

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He had more charisma than anybody I have ever seen in my life.

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And I've always admired him for that.

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He was just as nice a guy as you'd ever want to run into.

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He was just awesome.

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# Viva Las Vegas! #

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Well, when I first met Glen, on our first date, we went out to eat,

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and he bowed his head to say a prayer before the meal began,

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and I thought, "Yes!"

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Cos I had been asking the Lord to send me a Christian man.

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So, we had a great date... But as the night progressed,

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I realised that he had a terrible drinking problem.

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It wasn't terrible! I was enjoying it!

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I should have added, "Be specific when you pray!"

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# Amazing Grace... #

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We had a lot of dark valleys that we had to walk through.

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But I knew that he was seeking God, and so I prayed a lot,

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and we found a good church in Phoenix.

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# Cos I once was lost And Lord, but now I'm found... #

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This past year, we received a diagnosis of Alzheimer's for Glen.

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-Short-term memory was beginning to...

-Oh, yeah.

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-..go away.

-I didn't want to remember all that stuff that was in my past!

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-I was glad I was forgetting it!

-So, we're just taking it day by day.

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It's been a slow and gradual process.

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We're just trying to enjoy life,

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and prepare for tomorrow but not worry about tomorrow.

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And God is faithful, and we're just going to trust in him

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-and rely on him for the future.

-Amen.

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She'd make a good preacher, wouldn't she? HE LAUGHS

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# I've tried and I have failed, Lord

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# I've won and I have lost

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# I've lived and I have loved, Lord

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# Sometimes at such a cost

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# One thing I know

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# The world's been good to me

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# A better place

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# Awaits, you'll see

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# Some days I'm so confused, Lord

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# My past gets in my way

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# I need the ones I love, Lord

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# More and more each day

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# One thing I know

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# The world's been good to me

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# A better place

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# Awaits, you'll see

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# Oooh ooh-ooh ooooh

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# A better place. #

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When visiting Halifax, you're only ever a few minutes away

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from some splendid Yorkshire countryside.

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The peace and tranquillity of being out in the country

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has always struck a chord deep in the human spirit.

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Something perhaps most famously expressed in the 23rd Psalm.

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David's words of green pastures and still waters

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have been set to music countless times through the ages,

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but recently, churches have come to treasure the setting we're about to hear next.

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It was written by a worship leader who grew up a few miles from here, Stuart Townend.

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Heavenly Father, we thank you for the people that enrich our lives.

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For the different communities that give us a sense of belonging.

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Help us always to remember that we are one family.

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And to strive to reflect your love and your light to those around us.

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Amen.

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The peace of God which passes all understanding.

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Keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God

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and of his son, Jesus Christ.

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And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father,

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the Son and the Holy Spirit

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be among you and remain with you always.

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ALL: Amen.

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It's time to say goodbye to the Minster town of Halifax,

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and the people who've shared their stories.

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But not before our final hymn,

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which celebrates the great story of our faith.

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It's time for me to head home. Till next week, see you.

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Next week, in a special programme for Remembrance Sunday,

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we'll be in the garrison town of Colchester.

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I'll be meetings soldiers recently returned from Afghanistan,

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and discover how the Royal British Legion began 90 years ago.

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Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

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E-mail [email protected]

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Aled Jones is in Halifax in West Yorkshire to discover the power and passion of two-wheeled transport and the history behind one of the UK's newest minsters; plus there is an exclusive performance from country music legend Glen Campbell.


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